Can we call a player who has had a year with 102 receptions in just 14 games a draft day sleeper? How about one that has five seasons of over 1,000 yards? What about an 11 TD campaign? Of course not… However, that doesn’t mean that he’s a player that isn’t going to far exceed his current draft position.
If you didn’t realize, the player we are talking about is Anquan Boldin, who struggled last year in his first year in Baltimore. While he played in all 16 games for just the third time in his career, he posted some of his worst overall numbers. His 64 receptions and 837 yards were the second worst marks of his career (beating just his 2004 season when he appeared in 10 games).
While the fact that he scored 7 TD is nice, it’s far from enough to get us excited. That could help to explain is current ADP (according to Mock Draft Central) of 63.36, the 25th wide receiver coming off the board. Considering his pedigree, it seems a little bit odd to see him coming off the board as a WR3, behind names like Kenny Britt and Percy Harvin.
One reason to think that he is going to improve on his numbers is the departure of Todd Heap. Heap may not have had a huge 2010 campaign (40 receptions for 599 yards and 5 TD), but he did represent a red zone target for Joe Flacco and the Ravens’ offense. Maybe Ed Dickson or Dennis Pitta can eventually grow into that role, but it’s not likely to happen immediately.
The other roster move that affects Boldin’s value is in regards to the team’s second receiver. Gone is Derrick Mason, who takes his game to the New York Jets. In his place comes Lee Evans, a player who may have never realized his full potential but brings an awful lot to the table.
The one thing the Ravens always seemed to be missing was a deep threat to go along with Joe Flacco’s big arm. Without that, defenses didn’t have to worry down the field, allowing them to bring everything in closer to the line of scrimmage, limiting Boldin’s ability to work.
Remember, when Boldin was really excelling he had Larry Fitzgerald lining up across from him. While Evans is not going to garner that type of attention from defenses, he does bring a potential to stretch the field. Just that thought in the back of the defenses mind is going to help open things up for Boldin to start racking up the receptions.
While he may not match the types of numbers he was posting in Arizona, he does have the potential to produce like a Top 20 receiver, if not better. Flacco is going to be depending on him inside the 20, while the presence of Lee Evans and Ray Rice will force opposing defenses to account for them. Things could be lining up for a big season for Boldin, making him well worth his current draft position.
What are your thoughts of Boldin? How good do you think he could be in 2011? Is he a player you want to target on draft day?
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